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posted by [personal profile] purplecthulhu at 08:43am on 25/09/2025
As I go into full scale teaching, this blog will become default friends-locked.

This post will remain open to all. If you want to be added to the flist, please introduce yourself here and I'll see what I can do.

ETA: Comments to this entry screened
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posted by [personal profile] purplecthulhu at 10:41am on 07/08/2017 under
The Age of Scorpio, by Gavin Smith

Ultraviolent space opera with storylines over three epochs including apocalypses in the iron age, the rough present and the far future. A mixed bag - seemed almost formulaically killing off viewpoint characters at first but also oddly compelling. Not sure it was compelling enough to get the next 2 volumes though.

Moskva, by Jack Grimwoord (or John Courtenay Grimwood as he's known in SF circles)

Nice cold war thriller, well told and well written. Interesting to see JCG working in a different genre. He does it well!

Infidel, by Kameron Hurley

Sequel to God's War, with the Belle Dames seizing control and Nyx fighting back. Lots more insect action in this weird but fascinating world.

Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?, by Paul Cornell

The most recent Shadow Police novel. Paul's take on London and the magic and history that surrounds it continues to develop very nicely, and the aftermath of what our heroes did in the last novel has many effects. These are not cardboard cutout coppers but people who have real problems with the strange new world of crime they find themselves in. Hopefully there's another coming soon!

Waking Hell, by Al Robertson

Sequel to the excellent Crashing Heaven, and a return visit to Station. Lots more development of the fascinating future history Al has mapped out, with the aftermath of the last novel still playing out and the addition of some very nasty new adversaries. We also find out a bit about what happened to Earth, and it's not very nice. Happy to say I provided some inspiration for some bits of this. Not sure I can forgive Al for the Kneale Pits though :-)

Eidolon, by Libby McGuigan

Got this in a BSFA raffle and a nice short read it is. Slightly reminiscent of Einstein's Bridge in that a strong plot element is the need to stop a major particle physics experiment (in this case the LHC), but with rather more mystical and conspiracy elements as well.

Going Back, by Juliet Kemp

Writing group read of a members draft novel. Developing nicely, but other than that my lips are sealed.

Into Everywhere, by Paul MacAuley

Second (last?) Jackaroo novel, in which we learn a lot more about what's going on and see more of the very weird stuff Paul has developed for it. Really good mind expanding stuff.

Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely

Secret Santa present from work. Not a lot new to me here but some interesting demonstrations that we are not as rational as we like to think we are, and how various groups, from business to politics, use that to manipulate us. The writer has an interesting MO where he has an idea for something, then experiments on students to see if he's right.

The Fifth Season, by N K Jemisin

I can see why this won the Hugo last year - really good fantasy world with rounded characters, believable rivalries, and some really nasty goings on. The world here is quite unpleasantly hostile in many ways, especially to our lead character.

Revenger, by Alastair Reynolds

Hard SF Space Opera! Space Pirates! Space sailing! Mysterious technologies and swashbuckling heroines! Great fun and highly recommended.

The Hanging Tree, by Ben Aaronovitch

The latest Rivers of London book, and we head back into the core narrative after a trip to the country. This time we're in the high class part of London, which means a lot of visits to Knightsbrige and Mayfair. I can see Ben has the same opinion of 1 Knightsbridge as I do. Great fun.

Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson

KSR's take on generation colony ships, resulting in a story that is almost as optimistic as something by Peter Watts, but also realistic, human and believable. Will set the agenda for discussion of colony ships for years to come.

Killing Titan, by Greg Bear

Sequel to War Dogs that, despite it's title, spends a lot of its time just getting to Titan where, presumably, the third novel will provide the finale. A bit of a between book, but still enjoyable and with some interesting weirdness thrown in. The simple us vs. them of book one is eroding to something much more interesting and complex, with interesting similarities between Bear's Gurus and MacAuley's Jackaroo.

Empire Games, by Charles Stross

Merchant Princes the Next Generation starts well, though the real world is trying hard to be as nasty as Stross' surveillance state.

The Corporation Wars: Insurgence, by Ken Macleod

Another Volume 2, and with some of the usual problems. We get to see more of the Acceleration here and again the good vs. bad between Axe and Rac of volume one breaks down into something more complex. Looking forward to vol 3 to see where this is going.

Luna: Wolf Moon, by Ian McDonald

Another volume 2, but I felt this pulled it off very well. The dynastic war between the Moon's five families continues, but with a new and frightening player entering the game - Earth. Very definitely recommended.
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posted by [personal profile] purplecthulhu at 10:00pm on 25/07/2017
Time in: 48 mins (34 cycling). Time back: 48:30 mins (36 cycling). 722 calories.

Still not up to full stamina yet, but I was pleased that a week of drinking beer in Bavaria hadn't set me back.

The junction heading north into Hyde Park from Exhibition Road continues to be a mystery. It is completely unclear to me how it is meant to work for cyclists. Are we meant to cut across traffic to reach the cycle lane, or gum up the pedestrian crossing, awaiting the crossing to go green so we can cross halted traffic and reach the cycle lane?
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posted by [personal profile] purplecthulhu at 12:09pm on 18/07/2017
I'm currently at a conference at the European Southern Observatory in Garching, near Munich. I lived and worked here for 2 years in the mid-90s and the last time I visited was in 2012.

It's nice to be back. I'm pleasantly reminded what a quiet, sleepy little town Garching is, and this makes a great contrast to London. ESO itself has also bloomed with 3 huge new buildings, a lovely new auditorium that we're using, and a new outreach centre, Supernova, currently being constructed.

The sun and the beer also help!
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posted by [personal profile] purplecthulhu at 11:14pm on 13/07/2017
Io story submitted to Apex.

God war story submitted to Deep Magic (after rewording of one profanity).
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posted by [personal profile] purplecthulhu at 11:00pm on 13/07/2017
Time in 52:30 (35:30 cycling), time back 53:00 (36:30 cycling), 679 Calories.

Hard work being back in the saddle - definitely some condition lost over the long period off. Some changes on the route - there's a hole where a building used to be - but mostly not so bad. The junction at the top of Exhibition Road is still a mystery for cyclists. Whoever thought that was a good idea must have never ridden a bike in London.

A little sore now.
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posted by [personal profile] purplecthulhu at 04:38pm on 30/05/2017
It's so usefule that phishers are so bad at spelling and grammar that it makes their attempts to tempt you to click and activate trojans or to send your identity and credit card details are so easy to spot.

The most recent (3 copies of this identical email received in a week) started out:

Reversed Customer

But this does get me wondering what a 'reversed customer' would be. Does this mean they want to send me money?

Answers on a postcard...
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posted by [personal profile] purplecthulhu at 06:28am on 25/05/2017
When Trump tried to hold the Pope's hand...

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posted by [personal profile] purplecthulhu at 02:59am on 24/05/2017
I usually refrain from THWUMP posts for academic writing, partly because I end up as a coauthor on lots of papers thanks to huge Planck and Herschel collaborations, but also because this is my day job and I don't get paid by the publishers of papers (sometimes quite the opposite in fact).

However, if you define a thwump post as being for paid writing I can now do one for an academic paper...

Back in January I was quite unexpectedly invited to submit a paper titled 'An Introduction to the Planck Mission' for a journal published by the IoP that is aimed at late stage students and general physicists.

They wanted about 20 pages of writing providing an introduction to Planck and its science by the end of May. It would then be refereed and, if accepted, published.

And if I could do this all to schedule they'd pay me 600 quid!

I didn't know such things could happen and, needless to say, have got the article in on time.

I'll reveal the journal's name and let you know where to get hold of the paper as an online preprint once it's accepted.
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posted by [personal profile] purplecthulhu at 10:40pm on 23/05/2017
Got pointed to this from the DG mailing list:

Alien Raiders:


A pretty good rendition of what happens when a night at the opera goes south, and a pretty good, claustrophobic sf/horror movie.

I know at lrast one person reading here might be interested.


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